How to Be Less Critical
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It’s easy to measure our accomplishments by what others achieve. If we don’t compare our talents, possessions, and looks to other people, how will we know the formula for happiness? We are a part of a rat race to succeed, and success in society’s eye is to have the best house, car, job—the list is infinite. Concerning yourself with perpetual competition can impede your personal growth and rob your mind of peace.
Everybody’s A Critic
When you compare yourself to others, you are doing two things: judging yourself and judging others. Both actions fall prey to our ideals. We either long to be like others, making ourselves feel inferior, or we criticize them for not meeting our expectations, thus making us feel superior. Regardless of which form our condemnation takes, we are indulging in a habit that is self-destructive and hurtful to ourselves and others. Chronic criticism can lead to issues, like depression, anxiety, and undue stress.
For personal growth, you should stop this constant disapproval. First, a negative perspective is a poisonous one. If we think negatively, we will feel so. In the same way, if we approach others in a judgmental manner, we are more apt to alienate them and lose the opportunity for valuable relationships. Second, idealism is not rooted in reality. When we worship aspects of other people or expect them to meet specific standards, we devalue the qualities of being human. Dehumanizing can be a dangerous habit to pick up, because you will never find happiness. When we use idealistic qualities to measure the worth of humans, they never meet the mark. That is unfair and unrealistic.
One of the common causes of a restless mind is being overly critical. Think about it: when you lay in bed at night, are you replaying the events of the day? Are you thinking about the stress you feel or the laundry list of tasks awaiting you the next day? Your mind then simulates hundreds of responses to past and future events, measuring and comparing outcomes.
It’s normal to behave this way. As the brain is a natural truth seeker, its ultimate objective is to figure out what’s going on in the world. It seems simple enough, but it can cause us to obsess over details—details that are often out of our control. As the brain attempts to solve your problems, it assesses your relative happiness. In an attempt to make you feel positive, your mind’s compulsion has only made you feel worse, not to mention taken up an hour of your sleep.
What you can do about it
Personal growth requires pruning. You need to work on quieting your mind. The constant criticism is creating a toxic environment inside you, and it is affecting your relationships. To find peace and a sense of worth, it is essential that you cease comparing yourself to others, and in an attempt to feel better, being judgmental of those around you.
1. A Fool’s Errand: Recognize the foolishness of comparing yourself to other people. Whether you are trying to live up to someone else’s standards or feel better about yourself, the emotions attached to comparison are short-lived and unauthentic. Your having a bigger house than your brother isn’t going to bring you happiness. It is only going to elevate the competitive nature that is driving a wedge between you two and skew your ideals of what happiness is.
2. You, You, You: The only person you can change is you. The only person you have control of is you. The only time you have control of yourself is now. Repeat that. Make this your personal mantra. Appreciate your talents and characteristics. Recognize your achievements. Use these benchmarks as a means to measure personal growth. You can only compare yourself to you.
3. Love More: The principles of attraction are clear. Positivity begets positivity. Negativity begets negativity. You can attract negativity through emotions, such as anger, resentment, hate, etc. But the good news is that positivity works in the same way. Kindness, compassion, and love will change your life. Acting positive toward others will help you to be kinder toward yourself.
4. Judge Less: Remember, when you compare yourself to others, you are hurting yourself. But when you judge other people harshly, you hurt yourself and them. First, take note of every time you criticize someone. Not only is it important to realize how often you do this, but it is important to understand why. Second, try to approach people differently. Instead of immediately passing judgment on the mother whose toddler is terrorizing the grocery store, think about how difficult it is to raise a toddler. Just as you seek compassion when you are feeling frustrated or angry, others around you desire this, too.
It may take some time to break free from the cycle of constant criticism, but for personal growth, it is essential. We must remember that we all come into this world the same way; we are all susceptible to illness and death. We all crave approval, and we all feel disappointed at some point. It is inevitable. It is human.
- Melissa Lavery, M.S.
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Edberg, H. (n.d.). How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (and Start Empowering Yourself). Retrieved February 24, 2015, from http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2014/09/03/comparison-trap/
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Ni, P. (2014, September 21). How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others-and Feel Happier! Retrieved February 23, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201409/how-stop-comparing-yourself-others-and-feel-happier